Regardless of numbers, there will be one major difference this week in the Super Dome. That is, the placement of Sean Payton after his freak injury on the sidelines last week.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees said offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. probably will send in the plays from the sideline after getting them from coach Sean Payton. "There are a couple of more variables now in this thing," said the quarterback, "the extra couple of seconds it takes for Sean to go to Pete and then to go to me. Is it going to be different? Yes. I won't know how different until we actually get into the first game doing it."...
Saints guard Carl Nicks, on Payton not being on the sideline: "He's just got a kind of presence and moxie that when you're on the sideline you look for. He's yelling, and he's calling the plays. He's getting everybody situated. You can take it for granted. He's our leader so it's kind of weird not having him on the sideline."...Payton expects to call the plays from the coaches' booth at the media level...
Jimmy Graham is not only Drew Brees' go-to guy,he's the most used receiver in the NFL in recent weeks of the passing teams in football. Look at the top three passing teams (in yards per game) and where Graham ranks related to the favorite targets and the other two teams in their last three weeks.
Team Yds per game Favorite target Targets Rec, Yds,
New Eng, 350.5 Wes Welker 32 20 327
N.O. 344,3 J. Graham 37 25 385
Green Bay 325.2 G. Jennings 22 17 267
Peter King of SI.com notes that Sean Payton was bragging to some of his players how he had never had surgery while he played college and pro (briefly) pro football in the '80s. Days later, he had knee surgery. What a week for birthdays: Brett Favre is 42, Steve Young 50, Jerry Rice 49 and Jerry Jones 69...
The Saints released a statement Monday saying coach Sean Payton underwent a three-hour surgery to repair a tibia plateau fracture and lateral mensical tear.
With Saints head coach Sean Payton recovering from knee surgery, assistant head coach Joe Vit conducted the Monday media briefing.
"I anticipate Coach Payton returning to the office sometime Wednesday or Thursday," said Saints orthopedic surgeon Dr, Derk Jones. "The recovery period for this type of surgery is three to six months. I would anticipate him being able to put partial weight on it in about eight weeks."
Vit has 32 years of coaching in the NFL and is known for his "Vittisms" such as "I can't sing or dance so I coach football."
How will the game plan be administered with Sean in the recovery process today and tomorrow?
“The game plan will go as normal. Right now our players are in meetings reviewing yesterday’s game, making corrections. We are in special teams now. We will go to breakdowns. At 4 p.m., we have a pro personnel meeting on both sides of the ball. At 5 p.m. we will re-convene as a staff and look at the opponent in its totality and we will move on. We will be game planning tonight and all day tomorrow. It is what it is.”
Does this process become easier with a veteran football team that for the most part has been together for a while?
“There’s no question. When you have the type of people we have…The core of our football team has won a World Championship. They’ve been through a lot whether it’s displacement for a hurricane, preparing for a game in London or preparing for a Super Bowl. The foundation is here. The foundation is strong. These players aid in getting over any mini-crisis you might have because of their maturity, commitment and accountability for one another.”
Have you ever coached in a situation where the head coach is in the booth?
“Every football team, every game and every situation has different circumstances that take on a life of its own. When I did this in St. Louis, Mike Martz was on the telephone to the press box talking to Steve Fairchild. We’re going to work through all through mechanics. One of the things around here we take great pride in is our preparation. We’ll see what works for us. We have to see how Sean feels after the surgery. We need to see where he is in the next day or two. It’s going to be his call. This coaching staff has been together a long time. We need to work through these challenges for our football team to win a football game”
Have you talked to Sean today at all?
“I have not. We came in here at 5:30, 6:00, started breaking the film down and met with our players in a special teams meeting. I think that this morning he went into surgery and got out of surgery about ten minutes ago, so I have not talked to him today.”
Was there a certain point in the game where Drew Brees along with Pete Carmichael Jr. took more of a role in the game in terms of what plays were going to be called?
“The great situation with that is that when Sean went down he was working with a script of the first 15 plays and trying to call it from the bench, but Pete Carmichael and Drew have been together for so long…That history goes back to San Diego, so I think Drew knows Pete better than he knows himself and Pete knows Drew better than he knows himself. The play selection and what Drew likes and what Drew wants, those guys are on the same page. Pete Carmichael did a superb job yesterday of personnel groupings, getting the call out, making sure the call was right. Those two guys are tied at the hip. They were phenomenal”
Knowing Sean Payton as well as you know him and his presence on the sidelines, how do you think he’ll adapt?
“He’s going to do what he always does and adapt to the situation. I think that’s one of the things that makes him an elite coach in that he adapts to the personnel he has, the situation in the game, down and distance, all those things and do what’s best for the football team. That’s what makes him an elite coach.”
What did you see defensively after watching the tape?
“We still need to continue to take the ball away. We did not do that yesterday. That’s the staple of our defense. We will put our players in a lot of positions and put them through a lot of drill work to try to get that remedied. A top priority of what we have to do is win that turnover battle and take that ball away. That’s the most critical stat in football. We didn’t do that yesterday and it cost us a chance to win the football game. But we’re getting our hands on balls, but it’s not good enough to knock the ball down.
Do you think the possibility that teams are concerned about losing the ball against this unit and them being extra-careful is what the work in practice hasn’t translated into turnovers?
“I think that’s one of the reasons. When people play us, especially early in a game, they can carry the ball high and tight. This game has never changed and you have to try to break your opponent’s will competitively and physically. Somewhere along the line you’re going to break their serve, get good field position for the offense. That’s our priority. That’s what we’re working on right now.”
How dangerous are the Colts?
“I have not watched the Colts film yet. We put closure on this thing here. At 3:00pm, we’ll start watching film. I know this: it’s a team that we played two years ago in the World Championship. I know that they’re missing a future Hall of Fame quarterback, but this is a league of world-class athletes and this is a league of a lot of pride. They’re going to give us their A game, and if we don’t have our A game then we don’t have a chance. The staple of our program is preparation, and if we don’t prepare or do the things that we’re supposed to do to beat an opponent then it’s going to be a bad outcome.”
Could you talk about what Sean Payton brings to the sidelines with his intensity and what that adjustment will entail?
“I think the thing that’s most intriguing about Sean, and it’s a rarity, is to be the primary play-caller like he is, and you see what he’s done with his game situation and game management, he’s been meticulous in his preparation. His ability to switch on and off to offensive play-caller, making offensive adjustments and then making critical calls in critical situations whether it be a challenge, whether it be a timeout, clock management, those are things we work on exclusively in practice to put our players in those situations but put our coaches in those situations too. He brings a lot to the table obviously. He’s taught us well and it has to carry over into the game.”
Can you talk about his unique emotions on the sidelines that we’ve seen from him?
“It’s unique and what happens on the sideline, stays on the sideline.”
As the linebackers coach, how much help do you get from other coaches?
“At the end of the day, I’m a spoke on the wheel. When Sean went down, I thought our coordinators did an outstanding job. He was in constant communication with Gregg Williams, Greg McMahon, and Pete Carmichael. We were working the plan, and then we were getting prepared for critical situations, potentially a two-minute situation, potentially challenges and the challenge we did make, but all we’re doing now is we’re working the plan. Everybody’s on the same page. We try to pride ourselves going into a game to be the best prepared team. When this thing happened yesterday, everybody took a deep breath and worked the plan.”
What about going forward this week?
“It’s the same thing. You’re working the plan. Every week in the National Football League, I don’t care if you’re coming off a win or a loss, it takes on a life of itself. It’s a whole new set of circumstances, dynamics, matchups, and that’s what we’re going to start on at about 3:00 this afternoon getting ready for this matchup.”
Does anything surprise you anymore down on the sideline?
“Nothing surprises me. I don’t think he wanted the surgery to begin with. He probably wanted to be in front of the team today. He wanted to be on the team flight home. He wanted to be with his players. That’s who he is and that’s what makes him special.”
Ideally, would he be involved in preparing the practices for this week’s game?
“We are hopeful that he’s getting better. That’s the number one thing right now, that he gets better, that he gets the proper medical treatment as he’s getting, and to make sure that he goes through the process of getting this thing healed.”
Do you hope he’s back on Wednesday? Is one Joe Vitt press conference enough?
“I haven’t done this in six years. As you can see, I’m having the time of my life.
by Ed Staton
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